Fragrances of Tangier?
The endless din of the marketplace drowned the sounds of the vehicles honking, desperately trying to weave their way through the traffic. The hawkers yelled loudly, as ramzan shoppers crowded their stalls in the bylanes of bhendi bazaar. Women in black robes, old men with flowing beards, and white lace caps, young men in colourful kurtas, and embroidered topis, all laughing happily as they broke their daily fast. Children rushed around with excited looks on their faces, as ferris wheels crowded the narrow bylanes. The sweet shops were crowded, and the smell of fresh, hot, gulab jamuns wafted through the air. Intricately embroidered cotton, and silk kurtas, and salwar suits hung in the doorways, along with rugs, and mats depicting scenes, and symbols of Islamic culture.
Further down, the tall, white and green minarets of mosques, towered above, beckoning the faithful – a constant reminder for prayers yet to be said. The shoe shops, and the sweet shops were gradually replaced by the beautiful attar shops. Crystal bottles of all shapes, and sizes adorned the windows. Intoxicating, and heady smells of rose, saffron, jasmine,sandalwood, and undefinable fragrances transported me elsewhere. Almost making me wonder if, I were indeed, in an arabian desert city,where the oasis was just around the corner and where omens were important, where Paul Coelho’s boy found a way to make his dreams come true,where buried treasures and alchemists resided in tiny hamlets, and sleepy towns were full of such markets.
Sigh! No, I was very much in bhendi bazaar, one of the most crowded spots in Mumbai. And the slow moving, noisy, vehicles were there to bring me out of this reverie.